The Animal Agriculture Coalition (AAC) sent a letter Feb. 28 to members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry and the House Committee on Agriculture with recommendations for the 2013 Farm Bill.

The AAC, a group made up of animal and animal-related commodity organizations as well as veterinary and animal science associations, says Congress needs to invest more resources on animal health, livestock, poultry, and aquaculture production, as well as in new animal products research.

AAC says expenditures for animal health are just 7% of those which are designated for human health research. Investment in animal health and production innovation for the world’s 25 billion chickens and turkeys, more than 1 billion cattle and sheep, 750 million pigs and goats, and more than 1 billion companion animals is grossly insufficient.

“It is necessary for Congress and the federal government to renew its commitment to animal agriculture research and extension programs that translate into an affordable, high-quality food supply for consumers,” said Damon Wells, chairman of the Animal Agriculture Coalition, in  a press release. “The AAC urges Congress to pass a comprehensive five-year farm bill this year, as the agriculture industry cannot weather another temporary extension.”

Some of the recommendations
Among these recommendations are several of particular interest to food animal veterinarians:

  • Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) is authorized at $2.5 million annually, but is funded at below 40% of that level. FARAD is unable to carry out all of the valuable services it could offer such as improving the “real time” determination of withdrawals for legal extra-label drug use in food animal species; providing expert advice in situations involving accidental or intentional contaminations of food-producing animals; validating higher-level mathematical approaches for determining safe withdrawal periods; validating FARAD withdrawal estimates and expanding into contaminant exposure; broadening the Department of Homeland Security data elements and analyses; and one of the most important services, strengthening global FARAD for both safe imports and expanded domestic exports.
  • Continued and increased funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). AAC asks for $30,000,000 to be budgeted that it says is necessary to provide support for necessary personnel, equipment, training, surveillance, surge capacity, biosecurity upgrades, information technology support, interagency coordination, data collection, evaluation, and processing. Obsolete individual surveillance labs need to be modernized to bring about diagnostic capabilities to conduct surveillance of the U.S. livestock population for all major foreign animal diseases of concern on a species by species basis.
  • The Competitive grant program with qualified entities to develop, implement, and sustain veterinary services. AAC says the bills would establish a competitive veterinary services grant program with qualified entities to develop, implement, and sustain veterinary services. Grantees would be required to carry out programs that relieve veterinarian shortage situations, support private veterinary practices engaged in public health activities, or support practices of veterinarians who are participating in or have successfully completed a specified service requirement. The new program would be authorized at $10,000,000 for each fiscal year 2013 through 2017.

Read AAC’s letter and 2013 Farm Bill recommendations here.